Silicon 70 2018

Striving To Achieve True Beauty In Its Food, Its Day-To-Day Business, and The Way it Relates To The World Around: Bellisio Foods, Inc.

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Our name is a tribute to Jeno’s hometown of Bellisio Solfare, Italy, and also translates into English as “beautiful,” which aptly describes our company’s goals.

The firm’s passion is food. Bellisio Foods, Inc. is a fast-growing company with a long history of providing quality, innovative food that meets and exceeds consumers’ needs. Bellisio Foods makes a strong investment in people who are committed to building dynamic and respected brands.

The Odyssey of Bellisio

The Beginning:

Born from beauty. Bellisio's roots can be traced back over a century to the founder, Jeno Paulucci, and his parents, Italian immigrants who settled in Minnesota in the early 1900s. Ettore and Michelina Paulucci emigrated from Bellisio Solfare (Beautiful Sulfur), Italy, to the Iron Range of Northeastern Minnesota, a picturesque area with rolling hills, pristine lakes, and unspoiled forests. Michelina loved to cook and believed that food should be beautiful, delicious, and enjoyed together. She served classic Italian favorites and also created new recipes that were based on local ingredients and inspired by the diversity of her new hometown. These early years helped shape Jeno’s dedicated work ethic and creative ambition and fed his great passion for delicious food.

Family Grocery:

Michelina opened a small grocery store in the front room of their house to continue to support the family. Paulucci Grocery was open 7 days a week, from 7 am to 11 pm. Eager to help out, young Jeno worked before and after school and on weekends at the Daylight Market in Hibbing, MN. He earned much more than just a paycheck, and gained his lifelong perspective: "Do everything you can to deliver the highest quality and give the highest value."

A Natural:

At 17, enterprising Jeno became a traveling salesman for the C.A. Pearson company. Selling on straight commission, he learned quickly and went from earning just $57 his first week to pocketing over $1,000 by the end of week six. But after his wages were affected by questionable bookkeeping methods, Jeno left. Ethical, self-confident and focused, he decided to become his own boss and promote better values.

Bean Sprouts:

Jeno’s food empire started small, with an inspired decision to distribute bagged bean sprouts. Thanks to solid integrity, savvy business-sense, marketing brilliance, and Mama Michelina’s R&D advice, sales boomed. Chun King, Jeno’s first company, and first brand name is still on grocery shelves today.

On a Roll:

Jeno sold Chun King to R.J. Reynolds for $63 million in 1966, and a new company was born: R.J. Reynolds Foods. With an eye on consumer food trends and eating habits, our visionary entrepreneur was already dreaming up a new product. Jeno’s Pizza Rolls was an instant success – the right product introduced at the right time. Quick, convenient and tasty, Pizza Rolls were the perfect complement to increasingly busy lifestyles. In 1985, Jeno sold Jeno's Pizza Rolls to Pillsbury.

Micro Magic:

People weren't slowing down, and the microwave was becoming an indispensable appliance. Jeno settled on a practical answer to an underserved market: microwaveable frozen Italian entrees. Providing convenience, value and great taste, the flagship brand was called Michelina’s, named after Jeno’s mother. Michelina's recreated her delicious, authentic recipes, and made Italian dinners easy for everyone. The new company, Luigino’s, would eventually become Bellisio Foods.

Well Deserved:

After many successful years in the food industry, Jeno was honored as Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year for Florida. Later that year, he also won the Entrepreneur of the Year National Award. Two years later, he was the inaugural winner of the International Lifetime Achievement Award for Activism, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership. Jeno accepted with his usual humility and directed the recognition to his beautiful and beloved wife, Lois.

Beautiful Tribute:

In 2007 the company name was changed to Bellisio Foods, Inc. The new name— “the beautiful foods company” —allowed for expansion beyond Michelina’s brand and product line, and speaks to Jeno’s vision, the company's history, and inspiration for the future.

Capabilities

Bellisio is committed to achieving and maintaining food industry excellence through innovation, every step of the way.

Research: Great food begins with great ideas. Bellisio supports new product research and development with a team of food industry experts and a cutting-edge culinary center. In creating our own branded products as well as custom formulations for our partners, we strive to develop the most innovative culinary ideas with top-level technology and talent.

Production & Contract Manufacturing: Next in line; bringing our newly minted recipes to our customers’ freezers and tables. Bellisio’s full-scale production facilities smoothly handle each step needed for the successful production of over 2 million great-tasting meals each day, from component processing and manufacturing to cooling and freezing to warehousing and storage. 

Quality Assurance and Certifications: We set the bar high for ourselves, so we do all we can to keep it there. Bellisio’s quality assurance began with taste tests by Jeno, and although we’ve grown quite a bit since those days, we’re still very serious about making sure each meal we make is as good as the next one. Our business depends on it!

The Leadership

Ken Stickevers, President, and CEO: Stickevers joined the Bellisio team in 2014 and is responsible for all commercial facets of the Company, including US and Canada sales, marketing, business development, as well as Overhill Farms.  Most recently President of the US Consumer Products Division of McCormick & Company, Stickevers has held progressively responsible sales and marketing roles at Kraft, Pillsbury, and Campbell Soup, developing solid acquisition and integration experience and expertise. Additionally, Stickevers was vice president at Gateway, an e-commerce channel, and built and led sales and marketing teams at two start-up companies. Educated as an aeronautical engineer at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stickevers started his career in the Air Force and earned his MBA from Wright State University while serving as Captain.  He is a competitive swimmer and golf enthusiast.

“We’re driven by the consistent improvement of our products with efficient development, testing, and refinement, and we are dedicated to being experts in the commercialization and production of the highest-quality frozen meals possible.”

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